Michelangelo's 'secret room' in Florence to open for visitors

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A former coal cellar where the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo is thought to have hidden to escape from a furious pope will open to the public on November 15, a museum in Florence said on Tuesday.

Michelangelo's "secret room" is located inside the Museum of the Medici Chapels and contains charcoal sketches of human figures which have been attributed to the artist, who is said to have taken refuge there in 1530.

The small room, 10 metres long, three metres wide and 2-1/2 metres high at the top of the vault, was used to store coal at one point before it was rediscovered during renovation work in 1975.

Paolo Dal Poggetto, then-director of the Museum of the Medici Chapels, attributed many of the drawings found on the walls to Michelangelo, although others have since disputed this.

Dal Poggetto believed the artist had taken refuge in the room after falling foul of Pope Clement VII.

Small guided groups of four people will be able to visit the room from November 15 for a maximum of 15 minutes. Tickets will cost 20 euros ($21.20) per person, on top of the 10 euros charged for entry to the main museum.

"The limited number of visitors per time slot is due to the need to alternate periods of exposure to LED light with extended periods of darkness," the museum said.

The room is accessed via a cramped and narrow stairway and the number of weekly visitors will be capped at 100 people.

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